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Factsheet:

Employee engagement

Resource summary

This factsheet was last updated in August 2013.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is a concept that has become increasingly mainstreamed into management thought over the last decade. It is generally seen as an internal state of being – both physical, mental and emotional – that brings together earlier concepts of work effort, organisational commitment, job satisfaction and ‘flow’ (or optimal experience). Typical phrases used in employee engagement writing include discretionary effort, going the extra mile, feeling valued and passion for work.

In its work with the Kingston Engagement Consortium, the CIPD has defined employee engagement as “being positively present during the performance of work by willingly contributing intellectual effort, experiencing positive emotions and meaningful connections to other”.

This definition gives three dimensions to employee engagement:

  • Intellectual engagement – thinking hard about the job and how to do it better
  • Affective engagement – feeling positively about doing a good job
  • Social engagement – actively taking opportunities to discuss work-related improvements with others at work.

However, it is worth noting that numerous definitions of employee engagement exist, each with their different emphases. For example, one of the most enduring is that from the Utrecht University group of occupational psychologists1. This sees engagement as having three elements, which overlap with the CIPD definition (above):

  • vigour (energy, resilience and effort)
  • dedication (for example, enthusiasm, inspiration and pride)
  • absorption (concentration and being engrossed in one’s work).

Another element of employee engagement that is often considered essential is being aware of business context2, or understanding the line of sight between one’s own job role and the purpose and objectives of the organisation.

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  • What is employee engagement?
  • What are the benefits of employee engagement?
  • How to build an engaged workforce
  • The engagement levels of British employees
  • CIPD viewpoint
  • Useful contacts
  • References
  • Further reading.

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